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Word of the day: bakfiets (carrier cycle)

In the photo you see a relatively new, yet everyday phenomenon. The name of this wonderful means of transport is: BAKFIETS (carrier cycle). There are thousands of them. Sometimes you see young mothers pushing a big ‘BAK’ (tray, vessel) with up to four children. What power! What strength! What balance!

The Dutch love words starting with BAK. But watch out: they all have different meanings. A BAKVIS is nothing like a BAKFIETS. A BAKVIS is a teenage girl. If Nabokov had emigrated to Holland and written in Dutch he would have called Lolita a BAKVIS.

The name BAKVIS for a teenage girl goes back to the early sixteenth century. Odd word, because I don’t associate young girls with fish and certainly not with frying fish. When fish are very small, they are all thrown into a pan and fried. Do you see the connection with a young girl? I don’t.

BAKFIETS, BAKVIS, BAKBEEST… Three different words starting with BAK. The first refers to a tray or vessel. The second BAK comes from the verb ‘bakken’ (to fry). And the third BAK in BAKBEEST (monster or hulk) probably refers to large pigs which are mature enough to eat from troughs. BAK here means trough. There are more words starting with BAK: bakkebaarden (side whiskers), bakboord (larboard)…. Later I’ll come back to them.

Tomorrow’s word will be KAPPER (hairdresser). Tell us what your favourite Dutch words are and we’ll start a discussion.

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